Sunday, April 22, 2018

Thank you!

I have a lot of thoughts going through my head, but can't seem to find something to write about.

I have had a busy week. I spent all my break working. I don't know if that was a good idea because that meant that I didn't get a break between semesters at all. And I am now thinking..."I don't want to go back to teach!" I am really not ready to start a semester, nor do I want to. I can tell that this will be the longest semester I will have. Because I would be looking forward to it ending...See my sisters are coming at the end of July. So, I will be counting the days waiting for them which will make time go really really slowly. 

I didn't even do any yard work so I will have to do that next week. I went to Idaho Falls a lot and worked. I guess it was still good to have a week without teaching...

Spring seems to be finally starting here. It is nice to hear the birds sing happily outside...They came back to Rexburg (after being in the south for the Winter), but they came back way too soon (like early March). For a few weeks they just made painful noises (especially when it was below freezing) telling us they are freezing and I would respond "Well, what made you come back so soon?" You would think they would know that Spring in Rexburg starts really late. But, it lasts only a week and I guess they don't want to miss it so they come early. 

Around this time of year, I would sit outside in our garden with my mother and we would eat fresh lemons from our garden or oranges. The cats would be there trying to get our attention. I miss those sweet moments with my mother. 

I love being outside and can't wait to go camping and hiking and enjoying the areas around here in the summer. 

My book is selling well, I am happy the good feedback I get is more than the bad. I visited over skype with some women from Utah during their book club. They tell me there is a waiting list at the library for my book, and that list is 65 people long. 

For a short message today I want to remind you how important you are. If you are reading this blog then I probably know you or you know me. I want you to know that you have made an influence in my life. Whoever you are! All my friends mean so much to me. I never have time to keep in touch with all of you. I wish I did. I wish I could visit you all and see you often. 

Heavenly Father cares about all His children. We are all precious in His sight.  I wanted to thank you for being you! For the kindness you show others and for the person you are. 

My heart aches because I know too many that are depressed. They feel they are worthless because of what others have said about them or because they associate with the wrong crowd. Someone can step on a $20 dollar bill, but it is still worth $20. Nothing anyone does to you can lower your worth. You are a special Son or Daughter of God...and He loves you! You are loved by the most majestic being in the universe. There is divinity within you. Don't ever doubt that and don't ever doubt your great potential. 

If you are down or depressed, get on your knees and plead with your Father in Heaven. He will strengthen you and bless you. Your trials may not go away, but the Savior WILL share your yoke. "Come unto me," he says "all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you...for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." May we all come unto Him, the fountain of living waters, the source of peace, the source of comfort, even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I hope you all will have a great week!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Love not Hate

It is late and I am tired so this won't be long. I try to write a post weekly even if I have nothing useful to write. I think in a way it is like keeping a Journal. Sometimes I have a lot to say and other times I struggle. 

It has been a long day. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, oh how I wish I could rest. Somehow with my hip issue, I can't sit or lie down. So, that makes relaxing hard! Today I actually seemed to have aches all over, not just in my hip. I think I sat too long or something. 

I am trying to find a way to buy a foam chair that I can sit in without any problem. But, I just can't figure out how to do that. I may have to buy a foam mattress and cut it to make a chair ;)

I just finished listening to President Nelson speak at the Jerusalem Center. I wish I was there. It was an amazing meeting. I am working on translating it into Arabic. I don't know why I decided to do that...I think just seeing members from the Bethlehem branch in that meeting without any translation when there were Spanish and Russian translation going on made my heart ache. I still feel native members of the church in Palestine get lost through the cracks. I know how much they struggle and I know how much Heavenly Father loves them, but there are so many foreigners in the Jerusalem district that local members get pushed to the side sometimes.

Elder Holland said that the day of having President Nelson in Jerusalem was a significant day. It always is significant to have a prophet in Jerusalem. 

Sadly that same day, US troops were bombing areas in Syria. My heart aches for the Syrian people and I wish their suffering would end. It seems like every time the US decides to take down a dictator, half of the people are taken down with him and that country suffers for years after. It happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Yemen and now Syria. I think if you ask any of the people living in those countries they would say they would go back to the dictator's rule any day rather than go through what they are going through now. The few Syrians I know like Bashar Al-Asad, the few Iraqis I know adored Saddam Husein...I wish we could fix countries without killing innocent people.

I don't know why people fight. I never understood war. I understand fighting for your freedom and for justice, but I don't understand when people in the same country who are neighbors, fight each other. Then you have another country who thinks they can teach them not to kill each other by killing them. 

I should not say more on this...I just wish there was more love in the world! But, we may need the Savior to come back to teach us what true charity really means.

The semester is over and we have one week break before we start again! I need more than a week. That is NOT enough. I am so tired and I just want to rest. I did rest on Saturday...all day I did nothing. Just went shopping then slept. But, I feel that may be the only break I get. I need to get busy preparing my classes. 



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Come thou king of kings...

My family celebrates Easter today. I completely forgot to call and wish them a happy Easter. I think I have been here too long and am getting used to having one of every holiday, one Christmas and one Easter. It is hard to remember when everyone around you celebrates on one day.

I have had a good week. I finished all my revisions for my conference talks. There were not many changes which made it easy. 

The semester is almost over. I am glad I don't have grading to do and all my tests are online or are multiple choice. It has been a good semester. I had great students but with many challenges. I am sad at some of the challenges they faced, death of loved ones, broken bones, ...etc. 

I think my book sales are doing well. Of course I won't know until June how many books we sold, but it seems to be doing well. My friend emailed me today and said that their Sunday School teacher talked about me in his lesson. And I am getting requests for speaking at book clubs and other things. 

A student came to my office the other day and said he was from the Tel-Aviv branch. It turns out he is my friend's (Elena Bekar's) son. I was so shocked because I didn't think her son was old enough to be in college! Time sure flies. His mother is the most amazing woman I know. She is from Russia and she came to church every week even though all the services were in English. She continued to attend all her meetings for years even though she could not speak a word of English.  We took a picture together...


I went to pay at Walmart and the cashier was taking forever so I was playing with the dollar when I noticed what it said...I didn't write it of course, but someone did.

I got to teach the Young Women's lesson today. I worry about teaching youth since I somehow don't get a lot of participation and I feel I am talking all the time. But, it went well. I had two girls share their testimony and they were amazing! I love those girls so much. They were all so excited to do 'Ministering' with the sisters in relief society. I can't wait to see these changes being implemented.

We went to the temple on Saturday to do baptisms. Just the fact that teenagers were willing to wake up early and go to the temple at 7 am amazes me. We sat watching the baptisms for the dead be done by those great faithful youth. Then when our newest Young Woman went in, it was so cool because it was her first time and she was so short compared to the others. I think the water came to her shoulders. She is such a sweetheart. 

It has been raining for the last few days. I think we were about to drown. But, today as I walked out of church I could smell spring in the air (It's about time!!). So, there is hope. Sadly spring in Rexburg does not last long and if you sleep in, you will miss it. But, it is still an amazing season. I love to see my dead trees and flowers come to life and love the smell of Spring in the air.

I am sad at what is happening in my country yet again.  
Gaza has been under siege for many years now. No one is allowed in our out and little supplies are allowed in. 90% of the water sources are not clean and people are poor and struggling with no electricity and no clean water.  So, people from there are demonstrating trying to change their situation...They are getting shot and killed by the Israeli soldiers.

I saw an image of a Palestinian reacting to the nerve gas Israel has been using against my people in Gaza. It was horrible and the image of that man shaking and having seizures has not left me. They have used dumdum bullets a lot as well. Bullets that explode when they hit the body. These bullets are banned internationally, but Israel has never cared about any rules. They think they are above the law.  

I would be curious to see what some countries will do if the US started using dumdum bullets and nerve gas against demonstrators in the streets. Somehow it seems illegal when others do it, but it is OK when Israel does it.

I don't know if anyone but the Savior could cause justice and peace to abide in my home country...I can't wait for Him to come down and step on the mount of olives and have people there recognize Him and kneel down and worship Him.


Monday, April 2, 2018

Amazing Weekend

I don't know where to begin to describe this weekend. Easter is amazing anyway. I mean to imagine that the Savior was willing to die for me and to give me hope of eternal life and exaltation! I am so grateful for Him and for His infinite love and patience. 

This weekend I feel much gratitude to belong to this amazing church as well. I love our new prophet, President Nelson. I fully sustain him with all my heart and I know that he is inspired from God. I can't wait to meet him one day.

I drove to Utah on Friday and after spending about 7 hours on the road I made it to the Piepers' house where I had a quick dinner then I was back on the road again towards Lehi where I went to a book club. I have been asked by so many people to go to their book clubs as they read and discuss my book. In addition to that I had two speaking invitations, one to a stake of married students and one to a ward fireside. I am thinking speaking assignments may increase, but we will see.

Translation on Saturday went well. We had a great time. I love the translation team and love to participate in this amazing work.  When this room fills with people who speak 95 different languages, I stand in amazement at the spread of God's church. These are faithful men and women that willingly spend hours so that conference can reach people all over the world in their native tongue. 

95 languages in one room...

Our Arabic translation team...(Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine)

On Saturday I had a book signing at Deseret Book. It was really fun especially since they had a singer there and she provided the entertainment (but she stole the audience so I didn't get as many who came to see me). I got to meet many amazing people. One person I met was from Chile, but had ancestors from Lebanon. I helped her translate some of the records she had back from the year 940. 
I also had some visits from dear friends...Jenny who I met over Facebook came to visit bringing me a watermelon. It was a strange gift, but she explained saying that since Palestinians are often not allowed to raise their flag they put a watermelon outside because that has their flag colors (Red, Green, White and Black). That was really so sweet of her to do that.

What an amazing thing to hear President Nelson announce those temples as well. Especially the one in Russia. I wish Elder Bruce Porter was here to hear that amazing announcement. I know his efforts brought this about. 

We were grateful to have Rita added to our team because she brings treats!! She made amazing Baklawa. Welcome Rita.

We also had Brandon bring us quince (سفرجل) jam which we just loved. We put the jar in the middle and dug in. Some were even putting it over ice cream. He gave me a whole jar to take home.

 I was on a program on KSL TV on Sunday between sessions of general conference. It is a short segment. I had a 2-hour interview then they also filmed me teaching and interviewed one of my students, but it all got condensed to a short segment. It turned out Ok I guess. Here is a link for those that didn't get to see it:

Jabra had an Easter dinner at his house and he insisted that I come. Since I am staying for the afternoon session, I decided to attend a session of conference. The Piepers said they had an extra ticket. I think it has been 10 years since I actually went to general conference. It was not as amazing because I already knew most of the talks and knew what everyone was going to say, but it was still cool to sit there. The Piepers get tickets that are close, so I was sitting really close to the front. 
The highlight of the day was that they allowed us to exit through the general authorities door. So, I walked up to the front and watched as all the general authorities exited the stage. I got to say hi and talk to a few of them. Elder Rasband said: "You were on TV today!" I said: "Well, I didn't think you had time to watch it between the sessions" He said: "Oh I am recording it."

I don't know how many of you know this, but general authorities are transported from the conference center to the church office building using golf carts. I used to love to stand in the parking lot in level L1 and watch them all go by. on Sunday though, I got to ride on one of those carts with Sharon Eubank and the RS presidency in front of us and Elder Rasband behind us. I really felt important being shuttled with the general authorities. 

I got back late last night to Rexburg. Back to work today. But, the semester is winding down for which I am grateful. I can't wait to get a break! 
Life is good though...I pause often and reflect on my many blessings. I sometimes wonder if Heavenly Father will stop sending blessings my way, but He has not yet. I am so grateful for Him and for His amazing plan of salvation.